What follows is a note posted to the Austin Neighborhood Council listserve from Carol Gibbs, City of Austin Neighborhood Advisor:

I called the Census Bureau at 1-800-835-9752 and got some suggestions for how a resident can verify that the person at their door is indeed a Census Surveyor and not some bogus "magazine salesman" that's scoping houses to burglarize (you should report those guys to 911 immediately!). They were very helpful and happy to explain how this is going to work.

Feel free to incorporate this into any email you might send out to your respective neighborhoods/neighbors/etc.

A legitimate Census taker:

*    Will most likely be working solo.
*    Should be wearing their Census Bureau Photo ID where it is
readily visible.
*    Will be carrying a black canvas tote bag and a laptop, both
bearing the US Census Bureau logo (official seal).
*    Is supposed to work between 9am – 9pm (they have to work
evenings to catch folks who don't work from home).
*    Should have an "Official Government Business" sign in their car
window (especially if they are "cruising" the street, looking for
*    Has been assigned a specific address to survey, and will not
survey multiple homes in one area (in fact, each address surveyed is
considered a representative sample of 4,000 in that area).
*    Might ask a neighbor when they might be able to catch a specific
house's residents at home so they can get surveyed; the surveyor will
not disclose the type of survey it is, but will disclose that they are
with the Census Bureau (the 2010 Population Survey is not the only one
they are doing).

I would assume that the Census Bureau would want you to report any
surveyor who is not abiding by the above guidelines or does anything
else you do not feel is appropriate.

Hope this helps to get a good response to this critical survey!

Carol Gibbs
CoA Neighborhood Advisor